At 5 AM this morning, Mats Zuccarello jumped on a plane to Chicago to join the Dallas Stars and play his first game with his new NHL club. Less than 12 hours later, he exited the game with an upper-body injury, and is now expected to be out for the next month or more:
Mats Zuccarello is heading back to Dallas for evaluation, but the early assessment is that he is expected to miss at least 4 weeks.— Dallas Stars (@DallasStars) February 24, 2019
Zuccarello was electric in his first appearance for Dallas, netting a primary assist and a goal in the Stars’ 4-3 win over the Chicago Blackhawks. However, in the dying seconds of the Second Period, Zuccarello blocked a shot and headed to the locker room early:
This is the shot Mats Zuccarello blocked in the second period. pic.twitter.com/0912YKThAW— Matthew DeFranks (@MDeFranks) February 24, 2019
The puck looked like it hit Zuccarello’s hand, and the forward later confirmed that he is afraid his arm is likely broken:
Zuccarello said it’s his arm and thinks it’s broken. Doesn’t know anything else and said he’ll see doctor tomorrow or Tuesday for better idea if recovery plan— Sean Shapiro (@seanshapiro) February 24, 2019
The Stars obtained Zuccarello from the New York Rangers last night in exchange for a 2019 2nd round pick and a 2020 3rd round pick. If the Stars make the Western Conference Finals, then the second becomes a 2019 1st, and if they re-sign Zuccarello, the third becomes a 2020 1st.
Unless the injury is more severe then initially thought, Zuccarello should still be back in time for the playoffs. In the meantime, Dallas needs to make sure they actually make the playoffs. With several teams hanging around the Western Conference playoff bubble, Zuccarello was supposed to be the scoring help Dallas needed to lock up a spot. Now they’re right back where they started in the short-term.
After trading for Zuccarello, Stars General Manager Jim Nill said that Dallas wouldn’t make any more trades. But now it looks like he’ll have to go back to the market to acquire additional help. And he has less than 24 hours to do it.
Better start calling, Nill.